Hassan Esufally is taking on the challenging Inca Trail Marathon as his sixth marathon in his quest to complete a marathon in each continent of the world, thereby becoming the first Sri Lankan to complete a marathon in each continent of the world. Achieving this feat will propel him into a unique and exclusive club of the world’s greatest marathon runners – the 7 Continents Marathon Club™.
The Inca Trail Marathon is one of the most arduous and difficult full marathons in the world, due to its high and constantly changing altitudes, steep uphill and downhill terrain, changing weather conditions and the difficultly of running on an uneven surface in rocky conditions.
Esufally will be running this marathon on August 9, 2018 and, if successful, will become the first Sri Lankan to have completed this Marathon.
“I want to conquer the world’s hardest marathon as part of overall my seven continents marathon goal,” Esufally says.
The Inca Trail Marathon running adventure begins in Cusco, Peru – the archaeological capital of the Americas, at an altitude of 11,150 feet. The marathon route follows the ancient pilgrimage route to the legendary lost city of Machu Picchu, and altitudes on the route will vary from 8,000ft above sea level to nearly 14,000ft above sea level.
This route is considered one of the most authentic ways to see the Inca trail and to experience the many different elements of the Machu Picchu complex. But the grueling course also includes a steep stretch of stone steps, known as the “Dead Woman’s Pass” at an extreme altitude of nearly 14,000ft. The Inca trail is dotted with several such sections of stone steps, as well as narrow paths overlooking steep cliffs. While a clear trail is available to runners, it is often over varying elevations and with sections strewn with natural rocks and boulders.
Hikers, who also use this trail, usually take 4 days to reach Machu Picchu from Cusco. But the Inca Trail Marathon runners have to complete the marathon distance (42.2 km) in a time limit of 24 hours to be recognized as an official finisher of this amazing marathon.
“In order to succeed at this arduous event, I have got into the best shape of my life,” Esufally says.
Living in low-altitude, coastal conditions as experienced in Colombo, Esufally has the added challenge of adapting his body to these extreme altitude conditions.
“I have tracked my nutrition diligently and included high intense interval training workouts with an oxygen depletion mask on, done hill running and lots of weight circuit training in the gym,” he says.
The Inca Trail Marathon is the penultimate marathon in his quest to conquer all seven continents of the world.
“My aim is to bring pride to Sri Lanka, and to popularize adventure marathons, and hopefully to inspire others to also attempt these formidable goals,” Esufally says. “We may be a small island nation, but we have immense potential for sports and adventure and we need to keep pushing ourselves to achieve bigger and greater sporting goals.”
A full marathon is usually 42.2 km (26 miles and 385 yards being the historical measure) but each continent presents its own unique challenges and extreme conditions.
Esufally has already completed marathons in the continents of Europe (Stockholm Marathon in June 2017), Asia (Colombo Marathon in October 2017), Australia (Melbourne Marathon in 2014 and 2016) and this year he has completed the Boston Marathon in USA (April) and the Big Five Marathon in South Africa (June).
Hassan Esufally’s quest will be complete when, in December this year, he competes in the 14th Antarctic Ice Marathon in Antarctica, which takes place at 80 Degrees South, just a few hundred miles from the South Pole at the foot of the Ellsworth Mountains.
This is truly a race for adventure marathoners as it presents formidable weather and running conditions: the underfoot conditions are snow and ice throughout, with an average wind chill temperature of -20˚C at an altitude of 700 meters. Runners also face the possibility of having to endure katabatic winds, strong winds that come down through the polar plateau and can gather speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour.
The 7 Continents Marathon Club™ is an exclusive club of elite marathon runners who have completed some of the most grueling marathons in the world. At present there are less than 300 members worldwide. The Club is exclusive and reserved for athletes who are carefully vetted to prove they have run a marathon within the Antarctic Circle on the Antarctica continent, as well as on the other six continents.